Astroworld, Travis Scott, and the Deadly Pearl Jam Concert We Still Haven’t Learned From

At a 2000 European music competition, 9 folks had been killed after a crowd stampede that occurred whereas the band Pearl Jam carried out.

A day of rain had soaked the grounds of the Roskilde Pageant in Denmark to mud. After distributors had run out of trainers, concertgoers started wrapping plastic baggage round their sneakers. That made it tough to navigate the pavement on the Orange Stage, the place an estimated 50,000 followers had turned as much as see the Seattle rockers carry out.

Earlier than Pearl Jam started taking part in, viewers members pushed to get near the stage. The surge solely grew to become extra aggressive as soon as the music began, maybe due to sound points with audio system additional again, according to accounts given to Rolling Stone at the time.

Because the mosh pit intensified, safety guards observed that issues had been extra intense than traditional. One thing appeared off.

One guard, named Per Johansen, was stationed by the pit close to the group barrier, his job to hurl followers out of the group to security in the event that they surfed to the sting or received caught in a violent melee. “There have been some ladies, they usually had been extraordinarily tough to tug up,” he told the magazine, recounting how he knew issues had been improper. “Often we’ve one man to tug one up. However we would have liked two.”

Ultimately the maelstrom of moshing in such a decent crowd fashioned an precise pit. As folks had been being crushed, they started to fall to the bottom, the place they had been trampled, stood on, and unable to get again up. “Arms, legs and heads had been getting caught in a deadly tangle,” the magazine said. “On the backside of that human gap, about seven ft in diameter, was a pile of our bodies.”

About 45 minutes into the set, safety escalated issues up the chain, finally reaching Pearl Jam’s supervisor after which frontman Eddie Vedder, who stopped the music.

“What is going to occur within the subsequent 5 minutes has nothing to do with music,” he stated to the group. “However it can be crucial. Think about that I’m your good friend and that you could step again in order to not harm me. You all have associates up entrance. I’ll now depend to 3, and you’ll all take three steps again. All who agree say ‘Sure’ now.”

Eight males died that evening of asphyxiation. A ninth succumbed to accidents 5 days later. It was one of many deadliest occasions in rock music historical past, 21 years after 11 folks died in a stampede at a 1979 The Who concert in Cincinnati.

What occurred throughout Pearl Jam’s set in 2000 has been introduced up regularly in current days, following the tragedy in Houston.

Eight died and at least 25 were injured following a violent and harmful crowd surge throughout hip-hop star Travis Scott’s performance on the Astroworld Pageant Friday evening, the incident now additionally becoming a member of the ranks of worst death tolls ever at a music occasion.

The comparisons between the 2 occasions are haunting and uncanny. However, at a time of unanswered questions and a reckoning over simply how inescapably harmful music festivals could also be, the Pearl Jam incident of twenty years in the past supplies, on the very least, a litany of classes—to not point out a roadmap for the way an artist implicated in such a calamity and competition organizers can work collectively to make sure security going ahead.

Within the aftermath of the Astroworld catastrophe, investigations have been launched and hypothesis has been sparked about why this occurred, the way it might have been prevented, and who’s responsible.

The latter query has stoked a finger-pointing battle: the aggressive, safety-thwarting concertgoers; competition organizer Dwell Nation; native officers and probably ill-equipped, understaffed safety and medical groups; or Scott himself.

The star has a history of inciting chaos, having twice confronted felony fees for encouraging followers to breach barricades and thwart safety, and a video recently resurfaced of him in 2015 telling a crowd to “fuck up” a fan who stole his shoe. These followers, although, have relished the rebellious power of his reveals, reveling in lyrics like “it ain’t a mosh pit if ain’t no accidents” from 2018’s “Stargazing.”

Through the lethal unrest on Friday evening, Scott paused his efficiency as an ambulance moved by way of the group, earlier than cajoling the group to “make this motherfucking floor shake” as he completed his set. Movies from the competition have gone viral revealing the lengths followers went to attempt to get safety’s consideration because the state of affairs escalated, climbing scaffolding to plead with digicam operators and main chants of “cease the present.”

Folks have questioned whether or not there was ample crowd management and safety. Some have questioned why the live performance wasn’t halted on the first signal of unrest—officers have since stated they feared a riot in the event that they abruptly stopped the present—and what emergency protocols had been in place in case of a state of affairs like this. Several lawsuits have already been filed in opposition to Scott, Dwell Nation, ScoreMore, and different events concerned with the competition.

Past blame is the query of precise security at music festivals—a live performance expertise that has led to mass loss of life tolls as soon as a decade for the reason that Pearl Jam incident in 2000. (In 2010, 21 folks died in Germany on the Love Parade Pageant as a consequence of overcrowding of an entry tunnel.) Since 2006, 750 accidents and 200 deaths have been linked to occasions produced by Dwell Nation, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“Since 2006, 750 accidents and 200 deaths have been linked to occasions produced by Dwell Nation.”

As that is as soon as once more debated within the wake of the Astroworld tragedy, it’s prudent to look again at how the events concerned reacted following that tragedy twenty years in the past.

A complete rethinking of festival safety came about after what occurred at Roskilde. A brand new set of finest practices developed in collaboration with competition organizers, impartial safety groups and advisors, and the artists themselves had been extensively enacted throughout Europe, setting an ordinary for music-festival security that has but to make its approach again over the pond, which has didn’t undertake stricter crowd-management measures.

Among the many adjustments are paved surfaces, higher safety coaching, and smaller, separated, and cordoned-off zones to mitigate harmful overcrowding and stop the sort of rush ahead that results in viewers members being crushed or trampled by these behind them. Not solely are there limits to how many individuals might be straight in entrance of the stage, there should be a number of, cleared channels by way of the viewers which are vast sufficient for ambulances to cross by way of. Video from Astroworld showing an ambulance struggling to half the ocean of crowded Scott followers is a testomony to the need of this.

These separate zones and channels additionally cut back the chance of overzealous crowd-surfing, a apply long-ubiquitous within the States that might enable a reveler to coast throughout a complete competition website with no security internet until they occur to achieve a barrier on the fringe of crowd the place a safety official rescues them.

A Danish crowd-safety expert told Texas Monthly that he was shocked that Scott’s set continued for 37 minutes after Houston police reportedly declared the competition a “mass casualty occasion.”

In Europe, he defined, CCTV is used in order that competition organizers and safety groups can monitor the group for disruptions and emergencies, with many European festivals empowering a safety supervisor of an impartial workforce to cease a present instantly. The sound cuts off. Lights go on. The artist performing or one other official would instruct the group on what is going on in an effort to stop the riots that Houston police had been involved about.

Followers lay down flowers in Roskilde, 30 kilometers west of Copenhagen on Saturday July 1, 2000, the place eight followers had been trampled to loss of life late June 30. The catastrophe occurred when the group surged towards the stage throughout a efficiency by Pearl Jam. An additional 26 folks wanted hospital therapy.


What occurred at Roskilde spurred dialogue throughout Europe about the best way to revamp security measures and make them stricter. But it surely additionally, with Pearl Jam’s involvement, superior the concept of artists’ funding in imposing these protocols.

At future festivals the place they had been booked, they required organizers to satisfy sure security stipulations upfront and, according to the entertainment news website Uproxx, evaluated ​​“all operational and safety insurance policies upfront, similar to design and configuration of boundaries and safety response procedures in relation to making sure… security.”

On the prime of the guidelines is a full rundown of the competition’s plan for stopping the present, together with the mechanisms for speaking an emergency state of affairs to the band on stage and the way lengthy that might take, a failure that they imagine price lives at Roskilde. The analysis additionally contains, “trying out the competition safety’s command middle, location and effectiveness of stated places of EMTs, barricade varieties, placement and configuration, how alcohol could be offered, the venue’s capability and ‘entry and transition procedures,’” Uproxx wrote.


Folks attend a makeshift memorial on November 7, 2021, on the NRG Park grounds the place eight folks died in a crowd surge on the Astroworld Pageant in Houston, Texas.

Thomas Shea/AFP/Getty

The query of artist blame in an occasion like this can be a murky one, and equally sophisticated is what the duty is within the aftermath, significantly in the case of the victims and what they’re owed.

Pearl Jam grew to become proactive in reforming music festivals to make them safer and have been vocal within the years since concerning the devastation that evening triggered, even changing into near the households of the victims in an effort to discover a technique to heal collectively.

Scott has introduced that Astroworld attendees will receive refunds, and he has pulled out of an upcoming competition in Las Vegas. He has additionally pledged to cowl funeral prices of those who were killed. Nonetheless, there may be debate over whether or not that’s sufficient. Some Spotify users have urged a boycott of his music, for instance, because the query of what accountability means on this state of affairs is debated.

Is there one thing to be discovered from all of this? In fact. By all accounts, it was preventable. It’s whether or not one thing might be discovered that’s now the urgent situation. | Astroworld, Travis Scott, and the Lethal Pearl Jam Live performance We Nonetheless Haven’t Discovered From


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